Sore throat from stress: what is it due to and how to act?

Have you heard about a sore throat from stress? We teach you everything you should know about it.

Physician reviewed and approved Diego Pereira on December 05, 2021.

Last update: December 05, 2021

Pharyngitis is pain or irritation of the oropharyngeal cavity. Its symptoms can give you a hard time, and even prevent you from performing your daily obligations. Stress sore throat is something we hear very often, but is it true that stress pharyngitis exists? Stick around to find out what the doctors think about it.

The lifestyle of our current society makes it almost impossible to live without stress. Its aftermath is felt in many ways, from the physical to the emotional. Sometimes it is so internalized that you simply learn to live with it, and you do not realize the damage it does to your body. Let’s see what is behind a sore throat from stress.

Is there a sore throat from stress?

Although it is not always easy to diagnose it, there are several factors that make the appearance of stress pharyngitis possible.

Yes, a sore throat from stress is a real problem. As in all cases, this statement requires some nuances. First of all, you must understand that stress is a natural mechanism that the body sets in motion to deal with threatening situations.

That is, you feel stress so that you can respond better to the challenges of day to day. With small doses there is no problem, but when it invades your life the physiological changes it causes can affect your health. For example, there is unanimous consensus among researchers that stress weakens the immune system.

By doing so, the body is exposed to disease. It is at this point that we can understand a sore throat from stress. An article published in Inflammation Research in August 2012 it indicates that until 40% of pharyngitis cases are due to infectious episodes (rhinovirus and adenovirus).

The equation is complete: the body is more weakened by infections due to prolonged stress, and a significant number of cases of sore throats could be caused by them. For this reason, the evidence indicates that, in addition to pharyngitis, daily stress can also lead to the flu, headaches, back pain, and other health problems.

In the same order of ideas, you can also suffer from a sore throat due to anxiety. When you have episodes of anxiety, the body reacts by releasing cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream. Among many other things, these hormones can cause the following:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxious cough
  • Rapid breathing (through the mouth).
  • Tension in the muscles.

These physical mechanisms can dry out or irritate your oropharyngeal cavity, which can be a catalyst for you to suffer from an anxiety sore throat.

What can you do to avoid a sore throat from stress?

Given that stress, or in any case anxiety, is responsible for these episodes, the first thing you should do is identify whether any of them precede before or during the sore throat. This is very important, as pharyngitis can develop from other causes.

When you have associated stress and anxiety with a sore throat, then you can start a series of habits to reduce their involvement in your life. Let’s see what you can do about it through the following tips:

  • Cut down on caffeine: there is evidence that a disproportionate intake of caffeine can lead to stress, anxiety and even depression. Try to reduce your intake to one or two cups a day.
  • Exercise regularly: Researchers agree that regular exercise lowers stress. Try to do at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, the time suggested by the WHO for a healthy life.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A balanced diet can strengthen your immune system and therefore protect you against infectious diseases. Include fruits, vegetables and legumes in your weekly meal plan.
  • Sleep a full 8 hours: Studies show that stress can cause sleep disturbances. So try to sleep between 7 and 8 hours a day, never under intervals (they must be continuous).
  • Do breathing exercises: which can help you control an episode of anxiety and stress while it develops. We leave you with some in this article.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco: two habits that in excess can increase your stress or anxiety. If you can’t eliminate them completely, at least try to reduce them in your life.

You just have to include healthy habits in your day to day to avoid stress sore throats. If the changes seem too abrupt in relation to your current habits, try to incorporate them gradually. This way you avoid developing stress and anxiety as a result of modifying your routine.

What do I do if I still have stress and sore throats?

It is always important to see a doctor in case a health problem becomes recurrent and bothersome.

The habits that we have reviewed are the basic ones used to minimize stress. However, they may be insufficient for cases of chronic stress or chronic anxiety. Although these episodes also demand these habits, it is possible that they also require the mediation of a professional.

There is also the possibility that you have managed to reduce your stress or anxiety, but still continue to suffer from a sore throat. Keep in mind that bacterial infections, allergies, gastrointestinal illnesses (such as reflux), and environmental factors are other causes of a sore throat.

In this sense, consulting with a specialist is a wise choice. Especially if you have started a treatment without it being effective so far. A doctor will determine the causes of pharyngitis, which in turn will allow you to choose an effective treatment.

Stress sore throat is real; and it can also be triggered by anxiety. It is about attacking the problem, which requires a series of changes in your lifestyle. If the episodes persist, you should consult a specialist to delve further into their causes.

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